We’ve all heard that expression and while it seems to indicate a sense of freedom, it also bodes well for trouble. Too many retailers “fly by the seat of their pants” when doing their buying. Without adequate planning, this method of buying, while invigorating because of lack of restraints will always lead to overbuying, markdowns, excess invoices and cash flow problems.

It would seem truly frightening to face a rep with no plan, but retailers do it with regularity. How can they go wrong? There are so many ways, but here are a few. Reps try very hard to build friendships with retailers. Many are sincere, but ultimately, they will use their relationships to lead you to larger purchases. Reps feel that they have the best merchandise and encourage you to buy deep because the items won’t be there later. They will offer discounts, deals and dating programs to make the order larger.

Buying is a power trip and an ego trip unless you’re on a “bottom line trip” which is where you should be. Your concern in the market place should be to buy the best available merchandise (no matter who the vendor is) for delivery at the right time in the quantities to meet your retail dollar buying plan.

And what is your retail dollar buying plan? Your open to buy plan. Doing the work ahead of the show or your meeting with a rep puts you in the driver’s seat. You’ll know exactly how much to buy based on your projected sales and your desired turn rates. When you buy with an open to buy plan, you’ll always be on target to support your sales, improve your turnover and increase your cash flow.

Leave the “seat of the pants” buying to the amateurs. They won’t be around for long.

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